Next stop after finishing The Nomad Escape’s Bali Build Week, I wanted to stay in Bali some more time so I decided to try Draper Startup House, located on the edge of Canggu. It’s not walking distance to a beach, but a short bike/car ride away, and you get to experience a different part of Canggu staying in this quiet village area. It’s advertised as a coliving space or a hostel, and I was eager to try another coliving after having such a great experience in Spain earlier in the year. So here is my honest review of staying at Draper Startup House in Bali, Indonesia.

In March 2023, stayed for two weeks at Draper in a dorm. I wasn’t actually aware that they had any private rooms because I didn’t see any on their website, but it turns out they do – they just always get sold out so quickly! Anyway, I’m generally OK with staying in dorms on occasion, so it didn’t bother me too much. It was very cheap, like around £7 a night, so we’re not breaking the bank here. Though, I wouldn’t say it was the best dorm I’ve stayed in, to be honest. I found it to be quite a cramped room for 8 people, and there are no windows, which I’m not a fan of because I like waking up to some natural sunlight. The bathroom was OK, but the middle sink wasn’t working. Ah well, it was a place to sleep in for two weeks – I wasn’t going to spend all my time in bed, so it was OK. And the kitchen is tiny and not the greatest, so I didn’t cook once there – just ordered all my food in or went out to eat.

Draper Bali didn’t seem to be the most organised coliving space. In the whole two weeks I was there, there were no events organised by the staff, which I was a bit disappointed by. So the experience there is pretty much dependent on the people staying there. When I first arrived, it was rather quiet because a bunch of the guests had literally just arranged to go to Uluwatu for a few days and I got there too late to get invited. It wasn’t the end of the world, because it meant I got my pick of the desks more easily and I had lots of work to get on with anyway. Plus, there were a few people about to chat to if I wanted to.

The coworking facilities themselves are pretty great. It’s not a huge space, but that does give it a real cosy feel and you get what you need. There were nice chairs with comfy branded blue pillows in the main coworking space. The desks are good too, although I was confused at first where the plug sockets were – I had to ask another coworker and he showed me that they were under the desk. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I found it tricky to plug into sockets that I couldn’t see, especially being from the UK as well and not used to the European two-pin plugs that they use here. There are also a couple of more private booths you could just drop in and use too if they were free. Nothing seems to be bookable though, so just bear that in mind if you absolutely need privacy – it’s not easy to always get that here, to be honest. But to be in a space with other people about is quite nice.

Draper had a dog and a few cats that were always roaming about the place. They are pretty harmless, although one particular cat would always bother me and jump on the table whenever I was eating, which was pretty annoying.

One of the big plus points about Draper Bali is the lovely big garden that they have. Part of it is a small shaded outdoor workspace with all plug sockets, desks and chairs that you need, plus free self-serve coffee. Since Bali is always so warm, you could literally sit and work out there all day if you wanted to. And then then rest of the garden is gorgeous – very spacious if you wanted to come and exercise here, or just grab a bean bag and relax. Lots of green grass, huge Indonesian plants and beautiful views of the adjacent rice fields.

Back to the social scene – this did improve a lot once the Uluwatu lot came back. There were many great chances to get to know these more sociable guests of Draper. I started getting invited to lunches during the work week at local favourite eatery Gidiyon – such delicious food and great service! And then I also went with fellow guests to dinners out and nights out. There is also a WhatsApp group that one of the guests runs, which I only found out about like a week into my stay there when someone mentioned it. This was also a space where people would arrange things and just do general communications.

Something I also noticed about Draper, is that a lot of people stay at the accommodation there for some time, and then move out eventually but stay in the area, perhaps because it was full or they just found a more preferred accommodation elsewhere. However, they were still welcome to come back to use the space and meet up with current guests. The vibe is really casual there, but it does become pretty much like a family.

All in all, I did have a lovely experience at Draper Bali in the end. It kind of reminded me of like a summer camp, but for adults, haha. Perhaps next time I would rather stay in a private room there or some other accommodation for more comfort. And I think the staff could do with arranging some more regular events for times when there isn’t a guest staying that happens to be good at organising things and bringing people together. However, the coworking space, garden and whatever community of guests is there at the time seems more than worth coming back and visit next time I’m in Canggu, Bali. If you’re looking for luxury and privacy, then this isn’t for you. However, if you want a cozy shared workspace, camp vibes and a cool community to be part of, then Draper Bali is the place to be!

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